Had this car for 3 years. Bought at 117k. Not a very reliable vehicle. Timing chain needed replacing at 118k, water pump went bad at 140k, fuel pump went bad at 160k and left me stranded, fuel pressure regulator went bad at 161k, now the starter is bad at 165k. All of these are common Ecotec problems. There are also drivetrain issues, which are also common. The drivetrain rattles when starting the car up. I have put into this car exactly what I bought it for. It's not worth it. If you want to get a Cavalier, an earlier year with a different engine would suffice. The only good thing about owning this car is that, despite everything going bad, the engine itself refuses to give up. I would only suggest buying this car if you know how to fix it yourself.
Second owner of car. Bought in 2011 with 60k miles. I now have 167k. All guages were broke(VERY common and they never recalled it). Don't spend the $500 for the new assembly it will just break again. Buy individual motors on Amazon ($25 for 6) and sodder them on, and set guages. They've been working perfectly since. Due to those being broken I had to replace the fuel pump. Normal wear and tear: tires, battery, brakes. Regular oil changes. The drivers seat has broken. No longer stays up. Easy junkyard fix. The dashboard cracks in numerous spots. Another common problem with the Cavaliers though. In the past year I've put over 8,000 miles on it traveling all over the US with my boyfriend. My biggest problem: getting rear ended while turning, 1000 miles from home. Totalled it out. Airbags DID NOT deploy.
(not a manual, BTW) I've had my 2005 Cavalier for almost 10 years and 130k miles now. I bought it used from the dealer with 30k miles in 2006, and it's been extremely reliable and dependable ever since. Besides normal obligatory replacement parts like tires and brake pads, the only things I've had to fix/replace were the instrument cluster gauges at 110k miles, and the fuel pump at 125k or so. My struts also are very weak now at over 130k miles and need replacing. Long story short, this car shouldn't give you any issues well over 100k miles, even if you have been bad at oil change maintenance, etc. The engine will be the last of your issues with this car, which is the most important note.
- Little to no maintenance needed for 100k miles.
- Very reliable, tough little engine.
- Good on gas, and a quick car.
- This year of all Chevys had faulty stepper motors chosen for install in the instrument cluster
- The interior looks like a cheap car from '89.
- Bad handling in corners, but it's no race car.